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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1466-1487
 Header Item Taxi Regulations
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Eligibility
 Header Item Ports Policy
 Header Item Electric Vehicles
 Header Item Tourism Industry
 Header Item Road Projects
 Header Item Public Service Obligation Data
 Header Item Cycling Facilities Funding
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Communications
 Header Item HIQA Inspections
 Header Item Foreign Adoptions
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Children First Guidelines
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Departmental Budgets
 Header Item Child Care Services Staff
 Header Item Preschool Services

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 963 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 146 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1466-1487

Question No. 1466 answered with Question No. 1462.

Taxi Regulations

 1467. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to licence and regulate the supply of rickshaws; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1895/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As the Deputy may be aware, I asked the National Transport Authority (NTA) to conduct a public consultation on rickshaws, which concluded on 25 September 2017.  A report on the consultation, along with recommendations by the NTA, are being considered by my Department as part of a process to develop a Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA).  This will entail a detailed examination of all potential viable regulatory options for rickshaws. 

I share many of the concerns that have been raised in relation to rickshaws, particularly from a public safety perspective. It is my intention, following completion of the RIA, to progress any legislative provisions deemed necessary to provide an appropriate modern regulatory framework for rickshaws.

Road Projects Status

 1468. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his attention has been drawn to the significance and importance of the proposed western distributor road, phase two, to the economic and social development of County Sligo and its urban environs; if his attention has been further drawn to the time limited agreement in place between the IDA and Sligo County Council whereby the IDA has agreed to provide €5 million towards the €15 million estimated costs, subject to his Department approving the project in 2018; his views on this road project; if it will be funded in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1918/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The maintenance and improvement of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant road authority under section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the local authority's own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

As regards the Western Distributor Road in Sligo, I am aware of IDA's support for the project and my Department has also been facilitating the development of the project by providing grant assistance for a number of years.

In relation to the construction phase of the project, my Department made a strong case for additional funding under the Capital Plan Review and following the conclusion of the Review significant extra funding will be made available to my Department in the period to 2021.  This means that I will now be in a position to provide grant assistance for the Western Distributor Road project.

Sports Capital Programme Eligibility

 1469. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if a capital sports grant appeal by a club (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1938/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin When the 2017 Sports Capital Programme (SCP) was advertised, my Department issued a guide to filling out the application form which set out the minimum requirements that applicants had to meet to be considered for funding.

  Applications were deemed invalid primarily for one or more of the following reasons:-

  - Title/Access requirements of the SCP not satisfied

  - Insufficient quotations/estimates submitted

  - Evidence of own funding not provided in prescribed format.

  All applicants have been informed of the outcome of the assessment of their application, including details of why applications were deemed invalid.  Applicants were also offered the opportunity to appeal the Department's decision if they believed that an error was made in deeming their application invalid.  The club referred to by the Deputy has lodged such an appeal which is currently under consideration. 

  Separately, my Department is undertaking a general review of all invalid applications including those where incorrect or incomplete documentation was submitted.  Decisions in relation to how to address any successful appeals and improvements to further reduce the level of invalid applications under future rounds of the SCP will be taken once these reviews are complete.

Ports Policy

 1470. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross further to Parliamentary Question No. 38 of 22 November 2017, if he met with the British transport secretary, Mr. Chris Grayling, in December 2017; if so, if the meeting examined the ownership of Rosslare Europort, County Wexford; the agreed outcome of this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1948/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I most recently met with the UK Government's Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling on the margins of the Transport Council in Brussels on 5th December 2017.  The issue raised by the Deputy was not examined in our discussion.

The Deputy will be aware that Rosslare Europort is unique among the State owned ports as it is not a commercial company operating under the Harbours Acts, but is instead operated as a division of Iarnród Éireann.  The status of the port, and whether its current status potentially inhibits its development, was most recently considered in a strategic review, commissioned by my Department, and carried out by Indecon Economic Consultants.

Their report concluded that the creation of an independent port authority would be extremely difficult given the Port's complex legal structure. Instead, it was recommended that the Port remain in public ownership and that the possibilities for increased private sector involvement be investigated.

In order to assist Iarnród Éireann's overall consideration of how best to move forward, the company then engaged consultants to assess market interest. The assessment was largely positive in terms of the potential for increased private sector investment in the port; however, it did identify possible implementation issues due to the complicated legislative basis of the port.

Following that assessment my Department sought and received detailed advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the matter. That advice identified a number of legal issues with any such proposal and those issues remain under consideration by my Department.

The Deputy may also be interested to know that the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), in conjunction with the Department, has commenced a study into the use of the UK Land-bridge by Irish importers and exporters. The purpose of this research is to establish the volume of traffic using the UK Land-bridge at present, the likely consequences that Brexit will have on Land-bridge usage and the various alternative options that may be viable. This piece of research is expected to be completed in Q1 of 2018 and should inform the potential for the future utilisation of all Ports, including Rosslare Europort.

Electric Vehicles

 1471. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the percentage of State vehicles which are electric or hybrid; the way in which this percentage compares with 2015 and 2016; and his plans to increase this figure up to 2020. [1949/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The information requested by the Deputy is not collected in the format sought; however, the following relevant information has been extracted from the National Vehicle File. As of the 31st of December 2017 there were 6,605 vehicles registered under the ‘State Owned, Emergency Vehicles and Rescue Vehicles’ tax classification. The Deputy should note that this definition potentially omits some state/public vehicles that are not registered under this tax exemption category. Based on this definition, the following table summaries the number of hybrid and fully electric “State Vehicles” registered from 2015 to 2017.

Relief
  31st Dec 2017 31st Dec 2016 31st Dec 2015
Total State Owned 6,605 6,474 6,162
Petrol Electric 4 4 7
Electric 4 5 5


   As the Deputy is aware, to date the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in Ireland has been relatively low. There are a range of factors accepted internationally as being barriers to transition to EV technology including limited vehicle choice, range anxiety and low consumer awareness. This slower than anticipated transition to EVs is not Ireland-specific and does not indicate a lack of ambition or support. Increasing range performances, technology advancements, greater affordability and improved consumer choice will be the greatest levers in triggering large-scale change.

  The Government is, of course, very supportive of the transition to EVs. My Department and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment, have jointly convened an interdepartmental Low-Emitting Vehicles (LEV) Task Force to consider a full suite of potential measures to expedite the deployment of low carbon technologies, especially the uptake of EVs. Recommendations from the Taskforce were considered in the budgetary process; subsequently a generous package of measures to promote the uptake of electric vehicles was announced in Budget 2018. Current incentives include the following:
VRT Relief Continuation of VRT relief in 2018- Up to €5,000 for new EVs until end 2021 and up to €2,500 for new PHEVs.
SEAI Grant Scheme Continuation of SEAI Purchase Grant in 2018- Up to €5,000 towards the purchase of a new EV or PHEV.
Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) EVs and charging infrastructure are qualifying equipment under the ACA scheme.
Charging Supports A new grant to support installation of home charger points for buyers of new and second-hand EVs from January 1st 2018.
SPSV Grant Scheme A new grant scheme to stimulate take-up of EVs in the taxi/hackney/limousine sector from February 1st 2018.
0% Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) A new BIK 0% rate to incentivise EVs without mileage conditions for at least three years.
Public Body Procurement National Procurement Service to introduce a new public procurement framework contract for EVs in 2018 to allow public bodies to buy EVs with reduced administrative burden.
Public Engagement Programme National awareness campaign; Driver experience roadshow; Public sector and commercial fleet trials; Support for EV use in car sharing trials.
Toll Incentive Regime Funding to support a reduction in tolls for EVs


  As part of Working Group 1 of the LEV Taskforce – chaired by my Department - the role of public sector leadership in encouraging EV uptake is being examined. The National Procurement Service are planning to introduce a new public procurement framework contract for EVs in 2018 which would allow public bodies to purchase EVs with reduced administrative burden. It is expected that this measure will promote greater uptake of EVs within the State Vehicle Fleet.

Tourism Industry

 1472. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if funding will be provided by Fáilte Ireland in 2018 to institutes across the country conducting courses on tourism and hospitality; if so, the amount that will be provided; when the funding will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1957/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin This is an operational matter for the board and management of Fáilte Ireland.  Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to the agency for further information and direct reply.  

  Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Road Projects

 1473. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of funding for specific work at a location (details supplied). [1962/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects  is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Public Service Obligation Data

 1474. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount of Public Service Obligation subvention paid to each of the public transport companies in each of the years 2008 to 2011 in tabular form.  [2001/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Since 2010 there is no subvention paid directly by my Department for public transport services.

  The award of Public Service Obligation (PSO) contracts falls under the independent statutory remit of the National Transport Authority (NTA), which has direct responsibility for this area along with the routes covered and therefore I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.

  The total PSO subvention provided to the primary transport operators by my Department in the years 2008 to 2009 is as follows:

  Schedule of Exchequer Subvention: 2008 to 2009

Year Iarnród Éireann

€000
Bus Éireann

€000
Bus Átha Cliath

€000
Other Operators 

€000
Total

€000
2008 181,152 41,846 85,629 - 308,627
2009 170,624 49,365 83,199 - 303,188 


  Information regarding PSO allocations is publicly available in tabular form through the NTA's Statistical Bulletin series for State funded bus and rail services. Those documents are published on   www.nationaltransport.ie

Cycling Facilities Funding

 1475. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount spent on cycling infrastructure in each year since 2008. [2002/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Since 2009 my Department has directly funded "active travel" measures, including improved cycling infrastructure, throughout Ireland under a number of programmes including the Smarter Travel Areas, Active Travel Towns and National Cycle Network programmes.  This investment in sustainable transport involves many projects that benefit cycling, but some analysis is required to identify and extract information on the level of expenditure specifically relevant to cycling infrastructure in the period requested.  The data is now being compiled by my Department and will be forwarded to the Deputy in line with revised Standing Orders.

Since 2010 my Department has also provided funding to the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Sustainable Transport Measures Grants (STMG) Programme and the Regional Cities Programme for the implementation of sustainable transport projects, including cycling infrastructure, in the Greater Dublin Area and the regional cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.  Noting the NTA's responsibility in this regard, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a more detailed reply in relation to funding for cycling infrastructure provided under these Programmes.  Please advise my private office if the Deputy does not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Departmental Expenditure

 1476. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the amount spent on pedestrian infrastructure in each year since 2008. [2003/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As indicated to the Deputy in PQ 51363/17 in November 2017, road improvement and maintenance (including footways and footpaths) together with traffic management measures within its area of responsibility is the statutory responsibility of each local authority funded by its own resources supplemented by grant funding.  The Department does not, therefore, hold the information requested by the Deputy. 

Departmental Communications

 1477. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his Department uses anti-profanity software on its email systems and online contact forms; if so, the level of human oversight that is applied to the monitoring of this software and its effectiveness; his views on whether persons' legitimate right to petition Government may be blocked unintentionally by errors in the use of such software in determining that which qualifies as profanity being communicated in email and-or online contact forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2094/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross My Department welcomes input from citizens and taxpayers. We regularly receive correspondence from people within the State and, indeed, as we deal with Transport and Tourism issues we often receive correspondence from outside the State.

We take this interest from the public at large seriously and we have procedures in place, like all Government Departments, to ensure such contact is dealt with appropriately.

While we appreciate input from interested parties, we generally prefer if civil language is used in engagement with us. For example my Department has published a Customer Service Action Plan and it contains a section on engaging with the department where we make clear that we will not tolerate abusive, offensive or threatening behaviour in phonecalls.

We feel our work on behalf of the people in Ireland and our staff as individuals merit a certain level of respect and civility but this is no more or less than any other person in this country deserves. It may be the case that people sometimes feel the need to vent frustration but even in those cases we try to listen to the key points they are making.

To answer your specific question, my Department uses an e-mail and Web Security Gateway for monitoring incoming e-mails but does not filter the  e-mails for profanity, nor does it filter content contained in contact forms submitted through the external Departmental Web Site.

The net effect is that our systems and our people will not block genuine representations from the public and interested parties even if that contains small amounts of profanity and we listen to those who have something relevant to share with us.

HIQA Inspections

 1478. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of inspections carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, of an organisation (details supplied) since that organisation began operations; and the dates on which those inspections took place  [1207/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) was established under the Health Act, 2007 to promote safety and quality in the provision of health and social care services for the benefit of the health and welfare of the public.  Under the Act, the Authority has the function of setting standards on safety and quality in relation to services provided by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, as well as the function of monitoring compliance with the standards set and to advise the Minister and Tusla accordingly.  HIQA inspects children’s residential centres, Foster Care Services and Child Welfare and Protection Services.  HIQA publishes its inspection reports on their website - www.hiqa.ie.

Tusla is the statutory regulator of private and voluntary Children’s Residential Centres. Registrations are granted based on centre adherence to the National Standards for Children’s Residential Centres, 2001, created under Section 63 of the Child Care Act, 1991 and underpinned by the Child Care (Placement in Residential Care ) Regulation 1995, and the Child Care (Standards in Children’s Residential Centres) 1996

I have asked Tusla for the details requested by the Deputy and a further reply will issue when this information is supplied.

Foreign Adoptions

 1479. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of foreign adoptions that have been undertaken by Irish persons in each of the past three years; the countries from which the adoptions took place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1920/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The total number of intercountry adoptions recognised between 2015 and 2017, where the adopters were habitually resident in Ireland and held a valid Declaration of Eligibility & Suitability at the time of effecting the adoption, (Section 5, Adoption Act 1991 and Section 57(2)(b)(ii) of the Adoption Act 2010 refers):

Country 2015 2016 2017
Bulgaria 8 4 8
China  15 7 10
Ethiopia 0 1 0
India 0 0 1
Lithuania 1 1 0
Mexico  11 0 1
Russia 2 2 0
Thailand 1 4 2
United States of America 6 14 9
United Kingdom 5 0 0
Vietnam 31 21 22
Total 80 54 53

Departmental Contracts

 1480. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) that receives public contracts from her Department does not recognise trade unions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54385/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has a contract with the organisation concerned to provide the pilot Bail Supervision Scheme for a 2 year period following a public tender. Therefore this Department has no role in the operation of this organisation or in Human Resources within their organisation.

Children First Guidelines

 1481. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the implementation of the Children First Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54514/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone On 11 December 2017, all of those provisions of the Children First Act 2015 which were not already in force, were commenced in full. The Children First Act places the following statutory obligations on providers of relevant services to children: 

  - To keep children safe from harm while they are availing of the service [section 10];

  - To carry out a risk assessment to identify potential safeguarding risks which could arise while children are availing of the service [section 11 (1) (a)], and, 

  - To develop a Child Safeguarding Statement [section 11 (3)] which must include both the written risk assessment and the policies and procedures which are in place to:

  (i) Manage any risk identified

  (ii) Investigate an allegation against any staff member about any act, omission or circumstance  in respect of a child availing of the service

  (iii) Select and recruit staff who are suitable to work with children

  (iv) Provide information and training to staff on child protection and safeguarding issues

  (v) Enable staff members, whether mandated persons or otherwise, to make a report to Tusla in accordance with the Act, or nay guidelines issued by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

  (vi) Maintain a list of persons in the organisation who are mandated persons under the Act

  (vii) Appoint a relevant person in the organisation for the purposed of the Act. 

  A list of the types of organisations which are classified as providers of relevant services to children is set out in Schedule 1 of the Children First Act. To qualify as a provider of a relevant service under the Act, an organisation must employ at least one other person to provide that service. Organisations should consult the Schedule to establish if they are a relevant service, and if so, it is a matter for each organisation to satisfy themselves if they have any statutory obligations under the Act, as outlined above, and to discharge those obligations. As with any regulatory regime, it is a matter for organisations to ensure that they are in compliance with the relevant requirements and to take their own advice as required

  To assist sectors and organisations to fulfil their statutory obligations under the Act, my Department and Tusla have developed a suite of resources to support the full implementation of the Act. This suite of resources was launched on 2nd October 2017, and includes a revised edition of Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children[DCYA 2017] which contains a chapter specifically in relation to the responsibilities of organisations who provide services to children and young people.

  In addition, Tusla has prepared several resource documents in relation to implementation of the Act, including one guidance document specifically in relation to the preparation of child safeguarding statements.  Tusla has also developed a comprehensive Children First e-training module which is universally available, free of charge and which sets out the information required to recognise and report child welfare and protection concerns. These resources are available on Tusla's website. 

Departmental Funding

 1482. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the amount of funding received by an organisation (details supplied) in each of the past five years and to date in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54550/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Details of the financial resources made available by my Department to the organisation since 2013 are set out in the following table.

Year Funds
2013 €136,223
2014 €279,184
2015 €258,958
2016 €443,667
2017 €159,802
TOTAL €1,277,834


  The grant payments made directly by my Department supported operational costs relating to the administration of the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund and the operation of the Missing Children's Hotline.

Departmental Funding

 1483. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of agencies or groups in County Waterford that are receiving annual funding or subvention from her Department. [54608/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support children and young people throughout the country. There are currently twenty seven agencies or groups that are in receipt of annual funding from my Department in County Waterford, details of which can be found in the following table.

Number -
1 Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board
2 Waterford Youth Information Centre
3 Ballybeg Special Youth Project
4 Childrens Group Link Project
5 Ferrybank Special Project
6 Little Red Kettle Theatre Company
7 Manor of St John Youth Project
8 Sacred Heart Youth Project
9 Waterford Youth Transport Service
10 Waterford Traveller Youth Support Project
11 Waterford Youth Arts Ltd
12 Dungarvan Youth Resource Centre Project
13 Woodstown Activity Centre Project
14 Axis Programme Ballybeg
15 Farran Park/Farronshoneen Community Youth Project
16 Ferrybank Drug Prevention Project
17 Farronshoneen Youth and Community Centre
18 Frontline Project
19 Gracedieu/Logloss & Hillview Youth Project
20 Innercity Community Youth Project
21 Larchville/Lisduggan Millenium Youth Project
22 Manor Street Youth and Community Centre
23 Woodstown Activity Centre Project
24 Waterford City Arts Access
25 Waterford County Council
26 Waterford Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC)
27 Waterford Childcare Committee


  The Deputy should note that this list relates to agencies or groups that are directly funded by my Department and does not take into account creches and playschools under the various childcare schemes.

Departmental Budgets

 1484. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the percentage of the out-of-hours 2017 budget for social work services that was allocated to County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54646/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the subject matter of the Deputy's question relates to an operational matter for Tusla, I have referred the matter to the attention of Tusla for a direct reply.

Child Care Services Staff

 1485. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of staff working in the early years sector who are eligible for the higher capitation rate in 2017 in comparison to the number in 2016; the reason eligibility requirements for the higher rate were changed from three years experience in 2016 to three years paid experience in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54665/17]

 1486. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on whether it is feasible for persons working in the early education sector to have three years paid experience before being eligible for the higher capitation grant in view of the fact that most have already studied for a minimum of three years; the precedent for doing so compared with comparable sectors in which no such paid experience is required; her further views on whether this new stipulation will impact on the provision of services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54666/17]

 1495. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of staff working in the early years sector eligible for the higher capitation rate in 2017; the number eligible in 2016; the reason the eligibility requirements for the higher rate were changed from three years experience in 2017 to three years paid experience in 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1013/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 1485, 1486 and 1495 together.

DCYA does not have a register for all staff in the Early Years (EY) sector, and can only provide figures regarding the number of active room leaders in ECCE Higher Capitation rooms, based on applications that have been received and processed.

It is difficult to measure the number of staff working in the EY sector who are potentially eligible for ECCE Higher Capitation, as eligibility does not directly correspond to uptake. It may be the case that individuals eligible for ECCE Higher Capitation are working in the sector but not availing of ECCE Higher Capitation, for various reasons to do the with function of the Early Years setting or their own working role. There may also be other reasons associated with non-compliance with the ECCE programme, such as not meeting adult:child ratios.

DCYA is also aware that some services have reduced numbers of children enrolling in ECCE this year, as they are instead availing of the expansion of CCS. As Higher Capitation is part of the ECCE programme and dependent on ECCE capitation as measured by enrollments, some services may have appropriately qualified staff for which they are not currently receiving ECCE Higher Capitation. DCYA is considering how best to put in place some mitigation for service providers who find themselves in this situation.

In the 2016/2017 programme year, the number of services in receipt of ECCE Higher Capitation was 1918. The 2017 / 2018 programme year is still in progress, but I am pleased to confirm that as of 15 December, less than half-way through the programme year, the number of services in receipt of ECCE Higher Capitation has increased on the year-end total for 2016/2017, to1935.  My officials are confident that this will increase further before year end.  For 2016 / 2017, 2946 individuals were recorded as being ECCE Higher Capitation room leaders. The figure for 2017/2018 thus far, as at December of 2017, is 2921. Again, this is expected to increase as the year progresses, and more children enter the ECCE programme in January and April. 

The ECCE Higher Capitation rate is paid in respect of an experienced practitioner who also holds full, relevant, degree level qualification.  In addition to the completed training, a graduate should have three years paid work experience in the Early Years sector. This work experience can be accrued at any time during the career of the individual and can be achieved, before, during or after their qualification. Cumulative work experience should be taken into account, not just one continuous employment period. DCYA do not ask for proof of this work experience, but trust that employers will assess their staff appropriately. The employer simply notes the paid work experience of the staff member on the form when applying for ECCE Higher Capitation. This information, as supplied by the employer, is generally accepted by DCYA.

The three years’ work experience on the part of the ECCE Room Leader has been a requirement of ECCE Higher Capitation, on the recommendation of DCYA’s own officials, and officials from the Department of Education (DES) Early Years Policy unit, following a review of ECCE Higher Capitation in 2011. It was not the case, however, that it was always applied as had been intended, and steps were taken from the 2015/2016 programme year onwards to regularise my department’s approach in this regard. Higher Capitation was introduced to incentivise the hiring and retention of graduates, which international research shows can assist with the provision of quality services to children. As the standard capitation is available to services that meet regulatory requirements, including minimum qualification levels, the fairly significant additional weekly payment offered by the Higher Capitation was intended to focus on both a degree qualification and paid experience deemed important for the delivery of quality services to children. 

Issues such as this are part of a wider conversation around professionalization and award standards for the Early Childhood Care and Education sector in Ireland. Since 2010, there has been a sea-change in the Early Years sector and increased professionalism though training and education has been at the forefront of that. While DCYA has supported further training and education for the sector, it is admittedly only in 2017 that we were able to provide some support for Early Years graduates through the Learner Fund bursary payment. Many practitioners have up-skilled to degree level on their own initiative, often studying part-time on top of work and their own personal commitments.

In the context of the training and education landscape in Early Childhood Care and Education in Ireland which is still growing, developing and standardising, both DCYA and DES continues to believe that additional Exchequer funding to providers via the Higher Capitation should recognise both the degree qualification and important hands-on experience with children. The historical requirement for three years’ work experience as part of the eligibility reflects DCYA efforts to incentivise more graduates, and retention of these graduates.

Our colleagues in DES have initiated a report on the award standard at degree level for Early Childhood Care and Education degrees and are consulting with the sector on this. The review will include  consideration of the practical experience required as part of the degree. DCYA is engaged with the process as well, and will take the findings into account in our approaches to the very important issue of further professionalization of the Early Years sector, and our own operational processes. 

DCYA has introduced a number of measures in recent years to support providers of early years care and education services provide financially viable, high quality and accessible services.  These measures include the forthcoming increase to both the standard and higher capitation rates from September 2018. DCYA is committed to continuing with these endeavours.

Preschool Services

 1487. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if access will be provided for preschools registered with her Department and that operate the early childhood care and education scheme to the State indemnity operated by the National Treasury Management Agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54669/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As I previously informed the Deputy, the State indemnity is operated by the National Treasury Management Agency who acts as the State Claims Agency. All Department's claims are delegated for management to this agency.  This State indemnity also extends to bodies under the aegis of the Department which include the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Children Detention Schools, the Child and Family Agency/Tusla and the Ombudsman for Children's office.

The Early Childhood Care and Education scheme is a scheme operated mainly by private childcare services. It is not possible to extend the State’s indemnity to such businesses which have access to the insurance market. For this to occur all of these facilities would require to be designated as a State Authority. 


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